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Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

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Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Arpangel » Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:00 am

Oh dear, it’s chop and change time again, if only I’d kept my Triton.
But we can’t foresee how our lives are going to pan out sometimes.
Looks like we're going to be gigging our piano and marimba duo, we were discussing my instruments yesterday, at the moment I’m geared up for recording here, with my acoustic piano, Yamaha Reface CP, and my Buchla, that’s not an ideal live set-up, especially regarding the piano! Forget the Buchla, that’s out of the equation if we play live, but I need a really good combined piano/EP/synth type keyboard, and seeing as my legs are not what they used to be, something that doesn’t require a roadie to lift it.
Of course if the venue has a decent piano I’m OK, but if it doesn’t, I’m going to have to resort to a keyboard, any recommendations welcome, something with a decent synth and effects section would also be good.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby The Elf » Sat Feb 08, 2020 3:27 pm

How many keys do you need?

I'm presuming you'd be happy with non-weighted for a light gigging keyboard?
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby OneWorld » Sat Feb 08, 2020 6:17 pm

Arpangel wrote:Oh dear, it’s chop and change time again, if only I’d kept my Triton.
But we can’t foresee how our lives are going to pan out sometimes.
Looks like we're going to be gigging our piano and marimba duo, we were discussing my instruments yesterday, at the moment I’m geared up for recording here, with my acoustic piano, Yamaha Reface CP, and my Buchla, that’s not an ideal live set-up, especially regarding the piano! Forget the Buchla, that’s out of the equation if we play live, but I need a really good combined piano/EP/synth type keyboard, and seeing as my legs are not what they used to be, something that doesn’t require a roadie to lift it.
Of course if the venue has a decent piano I’m OK, but if it doesn’t, I’m going to have to resort to a keyboard, any recommendations welcome, something with a decent synth and effects section would also be good.

I used to have a Triton, which I liked a lot. But I needed something more portable and settled on the Yamaha MOX. yes it does feel a bit plasticky, well so it should, that's what it's made of. But it is sturdy. I also like the way it can be used as a VST, and even as a DAW interface. The MOX is getting a bit past it now and I am going to replace it with a MOXF. The sounds are basically a subset of the Motif and are highly regarded.

That said I think your main problem will be so many models to choose from.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Random Guitarist » Sat Feb 08, 2020 6:21 pm

Very happy Roland FA08 user here. Some pretty good sounds, easily tweakable, and doesn't break the bank, or the back!
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:36 pm

I've been happy with 5 octave M-Audio keyboards.

Over the years I've regularly played different keyboard instruments: model Ds, Yamaha CFX, classical organs, from the small to the ridulous.

But on the M Audios, I can play the Bach 48 etc, and don't feel I'm playing something cheap.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby DGL. » Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:57 pm

As has been said if a brand new keyboard is required then the Roland FA series have no only the normal JV? S+S engine but also the SN synth engine as well so that's an option, there is a 76 key version which should be a fair bit lighter than the 88 key hammer action version without sacrificing too many keys.

In theory you will need to ignore the flagship ranges as they are usually quite heavy due to the generally metal construction vs. the plastic construction of lower down lines (although for some reason the Kronos has a chipboard base).

One option, if age is not an issue, is the XP-30. From 1999, built in PSU, contains samples from the XP50/60/80, plus three of the SR-JV80 cards, Session, Orchestral and Techno with space for two more. Weight is rated at under 8Kg. Only 61 keys though. I have used one many years ago (that what our one good keyboard at school) and though it was quite good.
Or even some of the older lower end stuff from the like of Roland/Korg/Yamaha Etc if money is tight. i.e. the Roland RS8 with it's unweighted 88 key keybed weighing just under 11kg.

The other option is to go the rackmount route and buy the rack version of one of the workstations (Motif Rack, Fantom XR, Korg M3 (I believe is a rack), Integra 7 Etc.) and a lightweight controller of some sorts (either a specific keyboard controller or just any old suitable keyboard with MIDI).

There is always the PSS-A50 + Laptop setup if you want it really lightweight but 37 mini keys, even if reface quality, are not for piano.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Random Guitarist » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:00 am

DGL. wrote:As has been said if a brand new keyboard is required then the Roland FA series have no only the normal JV? S+S engine but also the SN synth engine as well so that's an option, there is a 76 key version which should be a fair bit lighter than the 88 key hammer action version without sacrificing too many keys.

I was curious regarding the weight of the FAs so looked it up. The 76 key FA is apparently 14.8 kg whereas the 88 is 16.5kg, so closer than you might expect. In fact the difference is almost FA!
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:27 am

What is your definition of 'workstation'? You didn't specify budget or desired feature set but but if it involves a decent onboard sequencer (which my definition of a workstation would) then you could do far worse than consider a Korg Krome. I'd say even if you don't need a sequencer you should take a look at same.

In my subjective opinion: Korg sounds better than Roland. The 'Roland' sound lacks something I can't put my finger on. I've trialled and returned to the shop 2 different models of Fantoms over the years plus played the latest incarnation and it did nothing for me. I haven't found a digital Roland synth I liked since the D50 in the '80s tho the System 8 came closer than any other I tried (but it's not a workstation).

Others have different opinions.

It's a pity you didn't post this 6 months ago... I gave a Triton away to a good home, but nobody gets my Trinity until they prise it out of my cold dead fingers ;-)
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Arpangel » Sun Feb 09, 2020 9:14 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:What is your definition of 'workstation'? You didn't specify budget or desired feature set but but if it involves a decent onboard sequencer (which my definition of a workstation would) then you could do far worse than consider a Korg Krome. I'd say even if you don't need a sequencer you should take a look at same.

In my subjective opinion: Korg sounds better than Roland. The 'Roland' sound lacks something I can't put my finger on. I've trialled and returned to the shop 2 different models of Fantoms over the years plus played the latest incarnation and it did nothing for me. I haven't found a digital Roland synth I liked since the D50 in the '80s tho the System 8 came closer than any other I tried (but it's not a workstation).

Others have different opinions.

It's a pity you didn't post this 6 months ago... I gave a Triton away to a good home, but nobody gets my Trinity until they prise it out of my cold dead fingers ;-)

My budget is around £2,000, but I’m looking at secondhand too.
I really wish I’d not sold my Triton, that was so versatile, fantastic arpeggiator, and great effects.
I agree about the Korg sound, it has a certain vibe that others don’t have. Although I may look at the a Yamaha MOXF, as it’s very light and portable, the sequencing side isn’t important really, I just need a really good piano sound, electric and acoustic, plus good effects, and a flexible synth section.
Our music is quite varied, and I need to go from Jazz piano type stuff to abstract synth improv, so it has to be very versatile.
An 88 note board would be good, but as has been said, weight would preclude that.
As usual, a I guess it’s going to be making the best of a few compromises.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby The Elf » Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:59 am

For an 88-note solution I use an Alto Live-88. For an ultra-light solution I use a Roland A-800. If weight and convenience are prime movers then having all the sound-generating power taken care of by a laptop makes for a very flexible rig - and takes 5 minutes to carry in, plug in and be playing. Both of the above keyboards are also USB-powered, so only one power plug needed.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Arpangel » Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:10 pm

The Elf wrote:For an 88-note solution I use an Alto Live-88. For an ultra-light solution I use a Roland A-800. If weight and convenience are prime movers then having all the sound-generating power taken care of by a laptop makes for a very flexible rig - and takes 5 minutes to carry in, plug in and be playing. Both of the above keyboards are also USB-powered, so only one power plug needed.

Don’t mention a laptop, that’s been bugging me for ages, it would be the perfect solution.
But, loading all my programs and sounds in would be a pain, plus, all of my licenses are used up on my studio computers, so don’t know how I’d get around that one.
Yes, it’s a good idea, but practically, a nightmare for me.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Vox Gnus » Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:30 pm

Perhaps a Yamaha MODX 7 or 8? Both are quite light, have fantastic piano sounds (with the option to load more, like the Bösendorfer grand), and are affordable. Yamaha also makes a matching wheeled bag for these, making travel easy. Not as robust as a Montage, but basically the same sound engine in a much lighter package.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby N i g e l » Sun Feb 09, 2020 9:00 pm

Modx has 8op FM, sorts out your DX7 sounds with modern FM
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Feb 09, 2020 10:13 pm

It seems obvious: buy another Triton.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:10 am

Trevor Johnson wrote:It seems obvious: buy another Triton.

Yes, but it’s heavy!
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Dave B » Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:32 am

It sounds like you are a bit stumped here. I could recommend all sorts of stuff, but none of it is light if you think that a Triton is heavy. The Elf's suggestion of an un/semi-weighted 88note synth action keyboard and a laptop seems to be the most flexible. In your shoes I would look at either a Kurzweil PC3 88 note (or PC3k8 if you need sample memory). Or just look at something like the Nord Stage and live with the limitations of the synth engine. But neither are light.

Or - thinking laterally - get a nice trolley from B&Q/Homebase/etc and use that for lugging around. And a hand in and out of the car...
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby The Elf » Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:04 am

Arpangel wrote:
The Elf wrote:For an 88-note solution I use an Alto Live-88. For an ultra-light solution I use a Roland A-800. If weight and convenience are prime movers then having all the sound-generating power taken care of by a laptop makes for a very flexible rig - and takes 5 minutes to carry in, plug in and be playing. Both of the above keyboards are also USB-powered, so only one power plug needed.
Don’t mention a laptop, that’s been bugging me for ages, it would be the perfect solution.
But, loading all my programs and sounds in would be a pain, plus, all of my licenses are used up on my studio computers, so don’t know how I’d get around that one.
Yes, it’s a good idea, but practically, a nightmare for me.
At some point you have to compromise - it's simply a case of which unacceptable path you can make work for you.

Put simply, I approach it like this...

'No holds barred': Every synth and module I would like to have with me goes to the gig, and I pay for people to help me transport it and get it to where it needs to be. I negotiate ample time for set up.

'Just get the job done': Laptop, one USB-powered keyboard. Everything runs in software - sounds, looper, backing... I can transport and set up alone in around 5 minutes. To get here took me weeks of setting up and ironing out the wrinkles. I had to find substitutions for all of that studio and multi-keyboard trickery. I use a lot of free or multi-computer license software instead of the stuff I'd normally choose. It's all compromise.

Most of the time I'm somewhere between these two. I have set-ups that let me add/subtract gear and switch around the set to suit. Cantabile performance software makes all this possible. The main thing is that you're there and performing - the audience pretty much don't care beyond that.
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Re: Need a good, light, workstation keyboard.

Postby Arpangel » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:21 am

The Elf wrote:At some point you have to compromise - it's simply a case of which unacceptable path you can make work for you.

Put simply, I approach it like this...

'No holds barred': Every synth and module I would like to have with me goes to the gig, and I pay for people to help me transport it and get it to where it needs to be. I negotiate ample time for set up.

'Just get the job done': Laptop, one USB-powered keyboard. Everything runs in software - sounds, looper, backing... I can transport and set up alone in around 5 minutes. To get here took me weeks of setting up and ironing out the wrinkles. I had to find substitutions for all of that studio and multi-keyboard trickery. I use a lot of free or multi-computer license software instead of the stuff I'd normally choose. It's all compromise.

Most of the time I'm somewhere between these two. I have set-ups that let me add/subtract gear and switch around the set to suit. Cantabile performance software makes all this possible. The main thing is that you're there and performing - the audience pretty much don't care beyond that.

Yes, I know, but I’m not looking to do anything complex, I just need a good piano, EP, and a synth, that’s it. I think I’m going to look at the Yamaha MX61, and Korg Kross.
I’ll be using a keyboard amp too, so that has to be taken into consideration.
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